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Old Jan 16, 2008, 4:37 AM   #1
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For wildlife pictures I want to obtain a 300mm, or greater, lens, preferably with zoom capability. I can spend up to $250 on this. My home bordrs a golf course. During this time of the year there is almost no humaactivity on the course, and wildlife sightings are a daily event. I am in a settled area of Kansas City, Missouri, so it is sirprising the number and variety of birds and animals to be seen. I throw food out for my birds, and this attracts a wide variety of feathered friends. The food also brings gray squirrels, fox squirrels, and ground squirrels. Not every day, but regularly I see foxes, coyotes, deer, possums, racoons, and skunks. I would like to capture all of these on my Pentax K10D.

I have looked at and tested a used Tamron 28-300 XR PK f/3.5-6.3 lens and a new Pentax 75-300 SMC FAJ f/4.5-5.8. The Tamron was soft at 300mm,but was, IMO,beautifully made.

The Pentax was a lot sharper at all focal lengths, but did not gather as much light, and was kind of junky in its build.

I want to try two Sigma lenses, both 70-300mm, but one APO and the other NOT APO. However, nobody seems to stock the Sigma lenses locally.

Perhaps some of you Pentaxians can come to my aid and offer commetary on all these lenses, or other of their ilk.

Hopefully, Old Engineer
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Old Jan 16, 2008, 5:04 AM   #2
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I would not advise you to get a superzoom like the 28-300mm for wildlife...too much compromises in sharpness and speed.

If I were you, I'd either get the Sigma APO (non-apo version is noticably softer) or the Tamron LD Di 70-300mm, both excellent value for the money.

If you don't mind manual focus, the Tamron Adaptall2 SP 60-300 f3.8-5.6 is very good aswell, I have that one myself.

Tom
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Old Jan 16, 2008, 5:09 AM   #3
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OE,
I just had a birthday, and as a result I got the Tamron AF70-300mm f4.5 - 5.6 Di LD. also does macro to 1:2 ... 1/2 life size, I'm delighted with it it's quite sharp at 300mm stopped down, I haven't tried it wide open, but it's early days, I haven't had it a week yet, only criticism is it's somewhat noisy in AF mode ... I can live with that. ... Jack
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Old Jan 16, 2008, 8:59 AM   #4
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I ended up deciding that I didn't want to compromise on the softness at 300mm - I opted to get one of the Pentax 300mm primes. I ended up buying an A*300 f4 and love it - it's small enough to be handholdable, was affordable at the time,and solidly built. I don't mind the manual focus as the lens is so sharp I can see it easily (and when I don't the camera beeps to confirm it). The FA*300 lenses that I saw on ebay have been out of my price range.

If you don't mind waiting a bit, I got the impression from the Pentax rep that the DA*300 is supposed to be announced at PMA. If so, you might want to look at it, and perhaps that will stabilize/lower the price of used FA*300 lenses, as some sell theirs off to buy the DA*300 (one can always hope, right?).
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Old Jan 16, 2008, 11:15 AM   #5
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take a look at the takumar screw mount. i've got a super takumar 300/4 that is VERY good. the smc model should be even better. i use mine as a light weight 300 when i don't want to tote the tamron 300/2.8. i'm very happy with it.. ebay<150usd.

roy
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Old Jan 16, 2008, 12:39 PM   #6
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Hi OE,

I think that you've gotten excellent advice so far, so I'll just add my $.02. . .

Among currently available new lenses, I'd echo Tom's (TDN) advice. It's pretty much a tossup between the Tamron LD Di 70-300 and the Sigma 70-300 APO as the two most affordable xx-300 zooms that offer very good performance at the long end. Both lenses get very favorable reviews from users.

A couple of other posibilities that haven't been mentioned and are relatively inexpensive, but very good, would be the manual focus Tokina 100-300 f4 AT-X SD and the Tamron SP 300 f5.6 Adaptall 2. They are relatively rarely offered, and the Tokina might go above your price range.

Scott
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Old Jan 16, 2008, 2:57 PM   #7
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I have a Sigma non-APO 100-300 lens that does a decent job and the APO version is said to work even better...If that is so then the 70-300APO Sigma or a 100-300 APO Sigma would be a good choice! I like sigma's build a little better than Tamrons but that is just a personal preference!

Dawg
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Old Jan 16, 2008, 3:16 PM   #8
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Gentlemen or Ladies all, Thanks very much for the excellent response to my question. I am being swung to either a 300 prime or the Sigma APO. Price will rule.

Old Engineer
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Old Jan 16, 2008, 3:38 PM   #9
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You can get an old Pentax (or Takumar) 300mm f/4.0 prime for less than $300 and they are pretty nice. I have the Tamron 28-300 and it is a little soft at the long end. Also, since wildlife is usually active early or late in the day, light can be an issue and the Tamron isn't the fastest out there.

Another option would be the Sigma 135-400mm lens. They're a little more expensive, but work pretty well for wildlife. You might find a used one fora decent price. I had one for a while, but sold it to buy the Sigma 50-500 (aka "Bigma"). It's an excellent lens, though a little slow. Still, it takes great images and really benefits from the built-in SR of the Pentax bodies.

The new DA* lenses that were mentioned should be great, but you'll be paying a grand or more for those lenses, and I didn't get the feeling you were that committed yet.

My best betsfor you are (1) a used Pentax 300mm f/4.0 prime (fully manual) for $250-300, or (2) the Sigma 135-400 zoom for ~$400 used to ~$600 new. Wildlife photography ain't cheap. You'll always want more reach, and faster speeds.
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Old Jan 16, 2008, 7:57 PM   #10
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snostorm wrote:
Quote:
A couple of other posibilities that haven't been mentioned and are relatively inexpensive, but very good, would be the manual focus Tokina 100-300 f4 AT-X SD and the Tamron SP 300 f5.6 Adaptall 2. They are relatively rarely offered, and the Tokina might go above your price range.

Scott
Scott you are either reading my mind or playing around in my camera bag. My first recommendation would be the Tokina 100-300 f/4 AT-X manual focus lens. My copy is very sharp. For a value choice I was going to recommend the Tamron SP 300mm f/5.6. It is light and easy to use handheld, does a pretty good job of 1:2 macros, and I have seen it go for around $100 on ebay.

Tim
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